Thursday, 1 October 2015

Melbourne: more memories and greener pastures

Of course, one post isn't enough to tell you about Melbourne. It would be unfair, since I've spent so many on Sydney. If my previous post has made you curious, make sure to read on, because there are still many things left unsaid. 

One of the things I've seen more than anything else is probably the Queen Victoria Market. My hostel, YHA Metro is only 5 minutes away from it. It is quite a reasonable hostel for its price. There is a public kitchen which you can make use of if you've done your grocery shopping at the supermarket which is only a 10-minute walking distance. Each floor also has a shared wash room (one for males, another for females), which is definitely cleaner than I expected it to be. For 29 dollars a night you will stay in a room consisting of 8 beds. If you are willing to pay more, you can get a room with less roommates.

YHA Central could've been my other option, as it is closer to the centre of Melbourne but a little bit more expensive. YHA Metro is about 45 minutes walking from the centre, which is obviously a downside. However, the Queen Victoria Market which I mentioned before is part of the free tram zone, so within 10-15 minutes you will still find yourself at Flinders Street. And believe me when I say it's much fun living near the Queen Victoria Markets, as I went there each morning for my after-breakfast snack: a warm bread/pie-like good called 'Borek' which is about 20 cm in length for only 3 dollars. It is filled with either lamb, spinach and cheese or potatoes. Be sure to try it out because I was very sad on Wednesday morning when I realised that the markets are closed on both Mondays and Wednesdays. Here I was truly looking forward to another potato Bourke, which has been my favourite those few days.

When you're at the markets it will remind you of Sydney's Paddy's Market straight away, due to its clothes and souvenirs. However, it is more spacious and there are a few more original stalls which make the Victoria Markets more distinctive. For sure, arts and crafts never leaves this city:

These are wax candles but I had to touch it to make sure the whipped cream was not real.
This is the kind of stall that makes me happy, not the fake designer handbags or cheap underwear.

Hand-crafted, scented flower soaps. Quite sadly, I do not have a better picture, and I am aware that I should work on my camera skills. If you're really interested, take a look here to see the flowers up-close.

From Queen Victoria Markets, another obvious stop would be the State Library, which is close to Melbourne's Central Station. Spring has quite pleasant weather here so you will find a lot of people sitting on the lawn in front of the building, but do not forget to take a look inside as well. There are some free galleries to culturally educate yourself with, and to make it more fun be sure to go up a few levels to enjoy the sight of sweaty students behind desks which are placed in a far-too-serious formation.

The State Library definitely seems to attract much attention on a sunny spring-day.
But inside you will find the truly concentrated ones.

Close to the State Library is where you'll find RMIT, a university I could've chosen if I hadn't gone to UNSW. I just couldn't help but take a look, if only to compare the atmospheres. RMIT is much different from UNSW because it does not really have a campus which keeps the students in one place. The faculties of RMIT are still clustered within one area, but they are part of the city, it is not secluded. To go from one building to another you will not walk with just a stream of students, but also whoever else that happens to be passing by because the buildings are in the middle of the city. They surely attract more attention than UNSW, but I think I prefer the safety of being inside a campus. I guess this is also the reason why I preferred Amsterdam's VU over UVA, or why I feel so at home at TU Delft.

This building in itself is probably already great advertising for RMIT. To me, its design could fit perfectly in Rotterdam.

I am not sure what those green blobs are supposed to mean but they definitely attract attention.

Another building worth noting is the parliament building. There are free tours which guide you into the very rooms which politicians use each day, and you'll learn a bit about the Australian political system too. It's a short tour but it's worth it, if only to see the richness of its interior architecture. In front of the entrance you will find a notice board with times at which the tours are given. Just stand in line and get in touch with gold, because the walls are decorated with real gold as a result of the gold rush in Victoria's past.

Melbourne's Parliament Building, of course classically tinted. Get here by taking the free City Circle Tram.

Some sneak-peaks of what you'll see inside of this building.

Melbourne is not just arts and buildings, though. If in need of some rest, you will find solace in the many gardens which will still have some hidden beauties. Go there, snap some pictures of sculptures, feed ducks, pretend to be an artist that's deep in thought while holding a Moleskine, or sleep in the sun. The environment is well-tended and serene, probably not as exciting as wandering through the city but it's nice enough for your photo album:

The greener pastures of Melbourne: the Royal Botanic Gardens.

While you're at the Royal Botanic Gardens, it doesn't take much foot-work to get to the Shrine of Remembrance as well. You might choose to just climb up the stairs and enjoy the view of this War Memorial, or go inside for a small fee, ticking it off your list of the many museums in Melbourne. At 5 pm, when the shrine closes, a small flag ceremony will take place. This means that the sound of a trumpet will echo through the area as the Australian flag is taken down from its pole.

The Shrine of Remembrance.

I believe that's enough for today. It's been about five hours and I'm still writing, man I'm on a roll. This is the last post about Melbourne as a city, but I plan to do at least three more featuring the Melbourne Fringe Festival performances I went to, two more about the Wildlife tour and one more about Melbourne's graffiti. So stay tuned!

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